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Ontario's Snowmobile Bucket List

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Ontario's Snowmobile Bucket List

Photo: Virgil Knapp

You've got the sled, now earn the bragging rights...



You’ve got the sled, done a few tours of your local trails, but haven’t found that epic adventure that makes snowmachine ownership worthwhile. Well, we’ve got just the thing for you.

Welcome to Ontario, Canada—where we’ve got over 20,000 miles of trails and enough bucket list-worthy items to keep you busy for the rest of your snowmobiling career.

We’ve gathered together the best of the best—trails you need to ride, snowmobile-friendly places you need to stay at, things you just have to see to believe—and best of all, you’ll be doing it from your sled far, from the hum-drum and distractions of home. Check out our snowmobile bucket list.

Ride Over A Waterfall Bigger than Niagara

Kakabeka Falls is a sight to behold any time of year. Photo courtesy of Ontario Parks

Just outside the City of Thunder Bay is Kakabeka Falls, that throws more water over its crest per minute than Niagara Falls—and the snowmobile crossing is less than 100 feet from the crest. There is no feeling more powerful than the thundering of these massive falls as you head out on a snowmobile adventure in the Northwest of Ontario. The North Western Ontario Trails Association has three major loops that take riders through the entire region.

See the World’s Only Log Castle

White Otter Winter Candy


In the middle of nowhere suddenly appears the White Otter Castle

Completed in 1915, the legend of White Otter Castle has been shrouded in mystery for over 100 years—some say the builder, Jimmy McOuat, built it to rebuff childhood insults, other say it was a gift to an unrequited love. Regardless, this three-story red-pine structure is a strange sight in the middle of an otherwise inaccessible wilderness. Check out the White Otter Loop for a short weekend route that takes you right to the castle.

Cross An International Border on a Snowmobile

Not many people are aware of this, but you can actually ride directly from the US into Canada at two places in Ontario’s Northwest—Atikokan and Fort Frances. Going into the US, riders actually check in with a border agent via videophone because of the remoteness of the location. You’ll need both a Minnesota and Ontario snowmobile permit, but this is one of those bragging rights items that not many sledders can claim. Entering Canada from the US will mean you have to apply for a remote border crossing with Canada Customs.

Snowmobiling in Ontario's Sunset Country

Ride out of: Fort Frances, Atiokokan in Ontario, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Bimidji in Minnesota
Stay At: Atikokan - White Otter Inn, Quetico Inn, or Perch Lake Resort (20km out of town, towards Crane Lake). Fort Frances - Super 8, Copper River Inn, La Place Rendez-Vous
Useful Links: NWOSTA, Atikokan Sno-Ho, Canada Customs, Fort Frances Bridge real-time weather, traffic, and border wait times, Types of Required Documentation for Border Crossing, Badiuk's Powersports, Webbs Powershack, OFSC

Ride Through Mountains... In Ontario

The famed Halfway Haven in the middle of nowwhere, Ontario

When people think mountain riding in Canada, they usually think British Columbia, but what you'll find in the Mississagi Valley in Algoma Country are likely the biggest mountains you’ll come across in the wide forests of Ontario. They’re definitely not the Rockies, but they’re nothing to sneeze at—and they are literally on the other side of the border from Michigan, so there’s no excuse for leaving this one uncrossed. You’re guaranteed a massive adventure if you undertake Algoma’s “All the Way There” ride, with plenty of stops for gas, food and accommodations. There’s even trailer service to bring sleds over the border.

Ride ON PRIVATE TRAILS

Exploring the Haliburton Forest Trails

There aren't many private snowmobile trails in North America, but the Haliburton Forest is one of the few exceptions. Separate from the OFSC trails that dominate, there’s 300 km (186 miles) of trails on 100,000 acres of forest, with on-site snowmobile rentals as well. They generally open earlier and close later than the OFSC trails. They also have a wildlife preserve with moose, wolves, and foxes, as well as dogsled tours if you want some variety to your vacation. $40 Canadian for a day pass. 

Ride out of: Haliburton
Stay at: Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve
Useful Links: Snowmobiling Haliburton Forest

Ride Ontario’s Oldest Snowmobile Tour

Spending a day or three riding the classic RAP tour

Ontario’s oldest are arguably most-beloved provincial park is at the heart of this epic three-day ride through the centre of the province. Known as the Round Algonquin Park tour, or RAP for short, it’s an easy route to jump on any point and go in any direction. We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend a stay at Spectacle Lake Lodge, hosted by Sharon, who was one of the founding members of the RAP tour. You will 100% have an amazing time, meet lots of other sledders, and have a quintessential Canadian sledding experience.

Ride Like A Local

Riding on the lakes around Parry Sound

While the RAP tour is Ontario’s most well-known tour for local and visiting sledders, the Seguin Trail is the local’s choice—if you really want to know what trail riding is all about in Canada, this is the route. It cuts from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay all the way over to Algonquin Park. The communities at either end live for snowmobilers, so expect to have a blast when you finally reach your destination—and the trails nothing to sneeze at either, combining old rail trails, wooden bridges, rock cuts and lake crossings its a cross section of the best that Ontario offers. For a true local experience, free of frill, eat at Jolly Rogers in Parry Sound or Blakes Memories of Muskoka.

Go Off-Trail in the Abitibi Canyon

 
Loving the deep powder in the Abiitbi Canyon

Known for its incredible deep powder snow, the Abitibi Canyon is the pride of the Northeast boondocking scene. Base Camp Abitibi Canyon now has gas and some limited accommodation, as well as an AirBNB in Smooth Rock Falls. Combine that with the Abitibi Canyon Loop for some on trail and off-trail actions.

Visit the French in Hearst

You can ride Algoma Country trails all day and not pass another sledder

For a bit more of an international flavour, consider riding up to Hearst from Sault Ste. Marie—you can make an incredible snowmobile trip out of it, and Hearst is a French speaking community (although they also speak English). The Companion Motel and Villa Inn and Suites offer some amazing places to stay and are legendary within Ontario’s snowmobiling communities in Ontario.

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